An ideal laboratory safety culture ensures that anyone who enters a laboratory, from inexperienced students to senior investigators, understands that they are entering an environment that requires special precautions. They are aware of the hazards posed by the materials they and others in the lab are working with, and they are prepared to take immediate and appropriate measures to protect themselves and their co-workers, especially in the case of unexpected events. At a minimum laboratory safety includes:
- awareness of the physical and chemical properties and health hazards of laboratory reagents and equipment being used, gained by conducting hazard analysis,
- availability and use of proper apparatus and infrastructure needed to carry out the procedure safely,
- knowledge of and ability to execute any additional special practices necessary to reduce risks, use of proper personal protective equipment,
- access to a well-organized workspace that facilitates unrestricted movement about the laboratory and appropriate segregation of materials and processes, and
- familiarity with emergency procedures, including the use of safety showers, fire extinguishers, and eye stations.
A strong positive safety culture encourages all laboratory workers to place the highest priority on these practices. It is not enough to provide safe equipment, systems, and procedures if the culture of the organization does not encourage and support working safely.
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